Energy Conference Founder Says Industry is Full of Innovation

It's become one of the most influential gatherings of energy leaders in the world, a meeting of the minds here in Houston this week that often determines how giant energy companies prepare for the future. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, the man behind "CERA Week," Daniel Yergin, says he's never seen as much innovation in the energy industry as he's seeing now.

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In a suite on the 23rd floor of a Galleria-area hotel, Daniel Yergin is finishing a snack, ready to embark on what will be a busy week. He looks relaxed because he's done this a few times before.

"What, what Super Bowl did we just have? Super Bowl number 41? We go from Super Bowl 41 to CERA Week 26. I think that Houston is a center, obviously, for the global energy industry, so it's a natural place to hold this conference and over time people have come to see this as a conference that is very content-driven that helps provide a framework for thinking about what's ahead."

More than 2000 delegates from all over the world are in Houston this week, with the likes of former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, Toyota President Jim Press and ExxonMobil Chairman Rex Tillerson on hand to discuss energy policy and trends. Cambridge Energy Research Associates, known as CERA, is an energy think tank Yergin founded in the early 1980s that now helps guide companies and governments by creating risk scenarios and tracking energy trends.

"Who foresaw the collapse of the Soviet Union or the invasion of Kuwait? And you can just go through a series of events that afterwards you see the logic. What the scenarios try and do is break down the walls of conventional extrapolation and look in different directions without saying that one is right and one is wrong, but rather give you a framework for thinking about and debating about the future and perhaps be more flexible and be prepared earlier."

Yergin says the energy industry is bursting with innovation, new ways of doing things that could change how companies do business.

"Our energy system is huge, it's complex, it's got great scale. So something doesn't change overnight. But I think everybody's now thinking about innovation and saying, you know, what's around the corner. Maybe it will turn out that it's important, but not transformative, but maybe not, and people kind of want to see around the corner and I think that's why an awful lot of people are at CERA Week this year."

You can find out more about CERA Week through a link on our website, KUHF.org.

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